The earliest mention of Jews in Dobra dates back to 1521. It is known that 481 Jews lived in the town in 1793.[1.1] For a long time, it was the largest Jewish community in the region, holding jurisdiction over Jewish populations of numerous nearby villages, even such prominent ones as Turek. Most local Jews were involved in trade, handicraft, and inn-keeping.

In the 19th century, the local Jews began to develop an oil and a textile industry in the town. They were also engaged in saddlery and milling. Towards the end of the century, they accounted for approximately 50% of the Dobra’s residents.

As a result of economic depression and World War I, the number of Jews in Dobra dropped. During the census carried out in 1921, 1,207 people (only 39.5% of the whole population) declared Jewish faith. Similarly to most localities throughout the country, Dobra experienced a wave of anti-Semitic incidents during the period of the Second Republic of Poland. Riots broke out in the town in 1937, and many shops owned by Jews were vandalised. Some Poles boycotted Jewish businesses, which greatly affected their financial standing. Many Jews had to rely on the aid handed out by the community’s charity trust (Gemilut Chesed). In the interwar period, Agudath Israel was the most influential political party in Dobra.

In 1939, the Jewish community had ca. 1,000 members. In 1940, a ghetto was established in Dobra, but its inhabitants were very soon deported to the ghetto in Czachulec. From there, most were sent to the extermination camp in Chełmno nad Nerem (Kulmhof) in two transports, one at the end of 1941 and one in July 1942.

The ghetto in Dobra has been described in The Dentist of Auschwitz, a memoir by Benjamin Jacobs. When Germans seized Dobra, they took the house, shop, and plot of land owned by the Jacobs family and handed them over to Anders, the local Volksdeutsche. The family had to move to the attic of the school building, where they were herded together with many other people. After the establishment of the ghetto in 1940, the family was forced to move out and live in a room with an earthen floor. Hunger began to take its toll on the Jewish population. Jews were forced to carry out humiliating works, such as crashing stones for road construction. Benjamin Jacobs and his father were deported to one of the labour camps near Poznań.

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